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REPORTING · 1st April 2010
Walter McFarlane
NO LAUGHING MATTER: Part 1

On Monday March 8th, Kitimat City Council started with a presentation from Rick Brouwer who represented the Skeena Nass Centre for Innovation in Resource Economics (SNCIRE). He hoped to answer the question about why SNCIRE exists and why we should care.

His first slide was the picture of a waterfall in a forested environment and said it would explain why they exist. “When you look at this picture, you can see many things in there. The first thing you probably see is a beautiful waterfall. If you can see beyond this, you can see a beautiful waterfall that tourists would like to visit, a source of clean water for fish and wildlife, a source of clean water for a bottled water business, a rock face for climbing, a rock face with potential mineral deposits, a forest, [an] area with a unique microclimate associated eco types, logs, a forest with carbon, a wildlife hunting grounds, a site for education, knowledge transfer, or a sight for a small scale power project. This picture is all of those things and more,” said Brouwer.

He expanded. He has been through boom and bust and with the bust, came everything from job loss, to social stress, divorce, spousal abuse, drug and alcohol dependency, depression, suicide among other things. The boom is used to recover from the bust. He suggested the region is currently busted.

He talked about how groups like his contact the government to try and get help to end the bust. He said it is time to think differently and SNCIRE was formed around quality and different thoughts.

He said we need a sustainable working economy which would support the infrastructure we want and without the wealth, we would not be able to have the communities we want and economics could not drive these decisions. Solutions need to come from within the region. He suggested we need to tailor our strengths. Finally, he suggested the region needs to act like a region.

“Over the past several months, since the Eurocan announcement, we’ve heard from provincial and federal representatives that they want to help and they are aware that the issues are regional in scope. However, we also heard from governmental representatives that there are so many groups and entities in our region that they are getting conflicting messages,” said Brouwer.

He expressed their organization is made up of top representatives from around the Sacred Circle from communities to businesses. He pointed out his group covers 1/5th of the province.

He branded the Sacred Circle as the Skeena Nass Region over the Northwest as Google identifies this region as such. Their goal is to bring people from the region together to work collaboratively to support a resource economy.

He concluded there is more to this region than its resources. It would be educational to teach others to create sustainable economies. He expressed the people of the region are also a resource for being creative, inventive and tough. He expressed they are working on projects in the region to create employment.

He asked people to look at the natural resources differently and think about what people see in the pictures. He compared the region to a musical band in which each musician can play whatever they want and make noise or work together to create music.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff wanted to know where the funding came from. Brouwer expressed funding came from some of the projects they work with to help cover the administration costs of this not for profit organization. In addition, they had just received word of a Northern Development Initiative Trust Grant they had received. They are also funded by small organizations.